DEFINITION: What is ‘thinking’?

This guy IS thinking!

What is thinking? This question could keep a room full of philosophers happy for a hundred years. But in the School of Thinking we are not concerned with thinking as contemplation, philosophical discussion or academic description, we are concerned with thinking as an operating skill – the kind of thinking that gets things done. Thinking is a life skill and the working definition we use at SOT is: Thinking is the skill of using intelligence to get things done.

DEFINITION:

Thinking is the skill of using intelligence to get things done.


Thinking vs Doing?

To many people THINKING is the opposite of DOING. They set these two activities up as mutually exclusive opposites in their mind. With practice, however, you can develop your ability to use thinking as a skill, just like you can develop cooking, golf, leadership, painting, acting or aikido. All human skills can be learned or developed.

Paul MacCready, inventor of the Gossamer Albatross and the father of man-powered flight once wrote to me from California:
“When first watching a School of Thinking class in action, I was amazed that something so simple and so much fun could be so quick and effective in developing a person’s “thinking muscle”. We all, as individuals and as caretakers of our precious earth, need these thinking skills”.

Dr MacCready’s metaphor of thinking as a ‘muscle’ is a good one. It’s betterthan the old-fashioned idea of thinking as a ‘gift’. If thinking is only a gift, there’s not much you can do about it. But, if it’s more like a muscle then there’s a lot you can do to develop your thinking power.

That’s why we look at thinking as a skill. We want to help you enhance your skill and develop your intellectual capital. The goal is to reach an alternating balance between thought-based action and action-based thought.

Thought-Based Action: THINK-START-DO.

Thought-based action is the kind of action that’s based on thinking. For example, you are reading a magazine and you read about a story set in the Greek island of Patmos. You start to think about the Greek islands and decide you want to actually go there.

You figure out a plan, you find out about costs for fares etc, you set a date and you finally go and visit Patmos and the Greek islands. You thought something out, got started and then did it – thought-based action: THINK-START-DO. This is how I came to visit Patmos in the summer of ’84.

Action-Based Thought: DO-NOTICE-THINK.

Action-based thought is the kind of thinking that’s based on action. For example, a customer walks into a store and the salesperson says “Can I help you?”. The customer then says, “No thanks, just looking” then pirouettes and walks out of the store. Most salespeople keep making the same mistake day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year.

But the thinking salesperson might say to herself something like this “Whenever a customer walks into a store and I ask if I can help them I notice that usually drives them back out of the store. Maybe I can think of some other thing I could do that would not have that effect. What could I do instead?” Action-based thought: DO-NOTICE-THINK.

The Alternating Balance

The skilled thinker can alternate a balance between thought-based action

and action-based thought, between THINK-START-DO and DO-NOTICE-THINK.

This is what cognetics is all about – action based on noticing feedback plus feedback based on noticing action – SDNT = START-DO-NOTICE-THINK continuing in a continuous series of loops or a kind of cognetics spiral on into the future, exploring the cognos, the vast universe of possible thoughts.

These guys are thinking, too.

The Cognetics Spiral

START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK
spiralling on into the cognos.

Start Do Notice Think, or its trigger code SDNT, is a powerful search engine for your necktop that will enable the brainuser to approach any situation, any problem, any opportunity with confidence. To be doubly negative, there is no situation that can’t be managed by SDNT:

1. First you Start. This is like switching the necktop from OFF to ON
2. Then you Do … something … anything
3. Then you Notice the feedback from your actions, carefully and objectively
4. Then you Think. What happened? What were the consequences?
What did I like about them? What didn’t I like about them?
5. Then repeat 1 – 5.

This is exploring, and off you go again SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT … on into the future, surfing the cognos.

What if …? Thinking

One of the most famous users of the “what if …?” type of thinking was a young thinker, a lad of sixteen, called Albert Einstein. At that age Albert wrote to his uncle wondering what he would see if he was sitting on a light beam.

By the time he was twenty-six, in 1905, he had solved that problem and changed forever the laws of physics and the way future generations would understand the world. This “what if …?” thinking he called a gedanken or ‘thought experiment’. One of the great thinker’s most quoted sayings is, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Science acknowledges Einstein’s thought experiments as among the greatest triumphs ever produced by a human brain. His thinking feats made him famous, not just in the scientific community, but amongst the public at large. He, in effect, became science’s first superstar! Until he died in 1955 he was always at the centre of much publicity and public interest.

At first he was the eccentric, the genius who never wore socks. Then he became a leading pacifist and opponent of rearmament whose traditional education left him with a lifelong suspicion of all forms of authority.

As the Nazis spread across Europe he advised President Roosevelt that it would be possible to make an atom bomb. However, when the bombs were actually used on Japan he immediately sought the establishment of a world authority that would control these weapons.

Today, posters of Albert Einstein are best sellers. It’s encouraging to know that these posters of the scientist, humanitarian, inventor, Nobel prize winner and thinker, are stuck on the walls of many a teenager’s bedroom along with their other heroes of rock, movies and sport.

Hardware and Software

Like Einstein, we all have some pretty awesome hardware in our twin-hemispheric, necktop, personal computer. Our problem, however, is that we are very short on software. The traditional western approach to thinking is simply reactive, logical judgement – the slapping on of the “right” and “wrong” labels.

This has always led to extravagant, destructive clashes throughout history and is hopelessly inadequate for designing a safe future in a rapidly changing world. In this SOT training you can go beyond your existing logic software with new SOT brain software called cognetics. There are a range of SOT brain apps that you can use to extend your thinking skills.

Logic and Cognetics

If you would like to get a “feel” for the difference between logic and cognetics (both of which are software systems designed to handle information in the brain) you can try the following simple exercise:

EXERCISE: There follows two sets of words which help describe the process involved in each brain software – logic or cognetics. Relax for a moment and take a nice deep breath, then repeat the words in capitals slowly and evenly over and over until you get the “feel” for the way each software handle its information.

Do it first for logic (repeat about 10 times):

RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG
RIGHT … WRONG

Do it now for cognetics (repeat about 10 times):
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK
START … DO … NOTICE … THINK

You may have noticed that logic uses a kind of labelling or “mail-sorting” approach to dealing with information. Logic reacts to information using judgment based on historical experience.

It fits, it’s right; it doesn’t fit, it’s wrong etc.

This is, of course, very useful in a secondary way and for looking back at static, theoretical, situations. By itself, however, it’s totally inadequate for dealing with most fluid, forward-looking situations in real life.

With cognetics, you may have noticed a quite different, open-ended, spiralling effect as movement is created (START … DO) and then feedback is evaluated (NOTICE … THINK) and further movement, with adjustments based on the feedback is then continued.

Thinking is Movement

There is no “right”way to think. The key to thinking is movement. Movement through the cognos, movement through think-space, movement through the ideosphere, movement through the universe of possible thoughts.

Whether you move out or in or up or down, sideways, backwards or upside-down reverse pikes, it doesn’t matter. Whether you take great leaps, use stepping-stones, random provocations, lateral thinking, flip-a-coin, or fantastic images, it all works.

Whether you use intuition, alpha-visualisations, TM, tarot cards, I-Ching, runes, prayer, auto-suggestion, cognetics, hypotheticals, scientific method, professional counselling, net surfing or “ask the oracle” – it all adds up to movement.

The essential key in thinking is movement – escape from your CVS. Once you have movement, you get feedback and, as we have seen, it’s this noticing feedback which is the essential ingredient for further thinking, which is to say, surfing the cognos.

Is this array doing actual thinking?

Thought Experiment:

A Thought Experiment is an experiment you carry out in your brain, using only thinking – your imagination. For example, you could imagine what would happen if cigarettes were square and not round. You think it through and imagine the consequences and possibilities and outcomes.

SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT
SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT
SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT
SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT

START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK
START DO NOTICE THINK START DO NOTICE THINK

———-

DFQ: What is your definition of thinking?

(Post your comment below, please)

———-
cvs2bvs,

Michael

(Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson)
Principal
School of Thinking

Copyright ©  2008. All rights reserved.

20 thoughts on “DEFINITION: What is ‘thinking’?

  1. Thinking derives from the past knowledge. Thinking in past knowledge in relation with others is destructive because you can not possibly know something which is living, so in that field there is no need to think just observe and remain silent with it without any opinion. But thinking in past practical or mechanical knowledge is absolutely necessary otherwise you can not do your daily mechanical function like driving or using your computer. That is the whole essence of thinking.

  2. good info.. thanks for this info..
    my understanding of thinking in simple words is that thinking is nothing but watching the movie-thinking is watching the imagination happening in the brain and deriving knowledge by watching the imagination and constructing the understanding by using that knowledge…having said that,i will have to include many other things to make a complete definition..

  3. START…DO…NOTICE….THINK …is the process of THINKING I was taught in science , many years ago.
    There was always a START of the experiment because the process was begun at a specific moment (eg magnesium ribbon dropped in dilute acid in minute quantities in a test tube , with some heat applied)
    The OBSERVATION process was a period of NOTICING what was happening , and writing in detail our specific observations .
    We were invited to THINK and Discuss ….. what had happened , HOW it had happened and WHY (chemically ) it had happened that particular way. Our observations and THOUGHTS were matched with a more precise scientific explanation and TENTATIVE conclusion.
    The value for us lay in the ACTION and the VALUE of our own experience and ideas …we remembered what we had done because our thinking was focussed and involved in the process …we were engaged.
    It seems that this process of engagement , and approach to tentative thinking has in some way been lost …………… It needs REDISCOVERY , strong RE-EVALUATION and implementation ……… not only in basic science, but many applications ….as A SINGULARLY IMPORTANT process of thinking and acting to promote inductive thinking and reasoning .
    The SOT formula SNDT must be considered INVALUABLE in an educative context of any kind.

  4. Thinking is the process based on focusing on a certain result (bvs), helped by personal experience and personal perception of cvs. Many ideas may appear in this process but the decission making point chose one idea and the action is based on that idea.

  5. THINKING is the deliberate and purposeful MOVEMENT of ATTENTION to connect-up to a BETTER VIEW of any situation which is followed by a felt sense that will indicate (FEEDBACK) how close you are to a BETTER VIEW of that SITUATION.

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